Tomatoes have always laid claim to health benefits such as the reduction of cholesterol levels, lowering hypertension, and providing consumers with the powerful antioxidant lycopene. In addition to those already known,
The Tomato Foundation has discovered another strength of the tomato: tomato phenols. According to their research, these phenols may have a significant impact on the world of tomato products.
Health conscious older consumers and healthy food conscious Millennials are driving the food industry to focus on natural, healthy benefits of products and ingredients, and to create new premium products that can replace medications like statins and blood thinners. This industry trend makes the tomato industry perfectly positioned to take advantage of the current market environment.
According to NIZO Food Research (commissioned by The Tomato Foundation), “Tomatoes, fresh or cooked, can improve blood circulation, boost heart and vascular health and reduce the risk of stroke or deep vein thrombosis. The summary of a recent report claims that just two medium size tomatoes or a single serving of 100ml of tomato juice, tomato soup, pasta sauce, or similar tomato product… provide a strong beneficial effect for improved blood circulation.”
Health benefits of cocoa flavanols were used to gain an official European Food Safety Authority health claim. Cocoa and chocolate manufacturer, Barry Callebaut, has experienced strong economic growth after the EFSA’s recognition of cocoa flavanols’ effect on blood flow. Danone and other companies have also experienced growth from the EFSA health claim for plant sterols in the reduction of LDL cholesterol.
Leveraging the value of the EFSA’s health claims demonstrates the food industry’s focus for science-based innovations, ones which add value for consumers in both traditional products and new, single dose product categories.
The Tomato Foundation’s Health Claim project is progressing to its second phase towards gaining a 13.5 “New Function” EFSA health claim for tomato phenols and improved blood flow. Having already been awarded a health claim for improved blood flow in 2009 (relating to an extract made from tomato paste called Fruitflow), The Tomato Foundation is ready to replicate that success.
All the bioactive compounds in the extract are present in more than just tomato paste, such as in other tomato products like crushed, diced, juice, soups and sauces.
The Tomato Foundation will reference this existing health claim trial data, which recently reached a 5-year proprietary period. This will be the core of the new application to EFSA. 90%
of the research is already done; only two additional phases of action are still required:
Phase 2: Product sample study to establish chemical uniformity in tomato paste and products and Phase 3: Two new human nutrition trials.
The Tomato Foundation aims to submit the health claim dossier to EFSA in 2019/20.
The data from the successful EFSA claim will serve as the scientific basis needed for an FDA Structure/Function health claim in the US. The ability for manufacturers and marketers in the US to use an official FDA health claim may help boost the industry.
Leading industry representatives have already described this project as a potential “global game changer” or “silver bullet” with the power to influence consumer opinion and consumption as well as add value across product categories.
In a world where labeling laws typically force producers to warn consumers against a product’s potential harms, EFSA and FDA health claims may help counteract consumer fears through positive labeling.
The Tomato Foundation is looking for help from the international tomato community to further their efforts. For further information, please visit The Tomato Foundation website: